01.09 The future development of Very High Cost Criminal Cases
The Legal Services Commission (LSC) has launched a consultation on a sustainable scheme for Very High Cost Criminal cases (VHCC). The [proposed] VHCC scheme follows close co-operation between the Bar Council, the Law Society, the Ministry of Justice and the LSC.
The new scheme is designed to replace the current VHCC Panel that pays litigators and advocates hourly rates for the work they carry out. The LSC believes the new scheme will produce benefits for clients, lawyers and the taxpayer. The proposals were developed after extensive cooperation with the representative bodies and aim to deliver value for money and encourage team working whilst giving careful consideration of the quality of VHCC litigators and advocates.
The proposed new structure for the VHCC scheme is as follows:
A Panel of litigators would be established. The selection criteria would focus on the quality and experience of the firms and individuals carrying out the work.
It is proposed that litigators would have full flexibility to negotiate the work that they will carry out on a contract. This approach reflects the fact that the individual VHCCs undertaken by litigators vary significantly. Cases will be structured around a series of core litigation tasks, which all practitioners agree, occur in all VHCCs. Litigator teams will be paid according to the tasks they carry out.
It is proposed that there would be a list of advocates approved to work on VHCCs. Advocates would need to obtain quality-based accreditation in order to gain a place on the list.
Advocates would enter into contracts for individual cases and would be paid a combination of graduated fees for core advocacy tasks and negotiated rates for case specific tasks.
Copies of the full consultation document and the draft regulatory impact assessment are available from the LSC website at:
The consultation closes on 18 February 2009. Interested parties can also find out more about the policy detail and share their views with the LSC at two consultation events due to be held in January in London and the north of England.